Content marketing has a number of KPIs, from Social Interactions, Organic Traffic, Social Engagements to Link Building. Many brands have Content Marketing strategies in place, but what quick things can they change in order to give their content the best chance of earning off-site coverage and followed backlinks to their site?
Why link Building is an important KPI for Content Marketing
Link building 10 years ago was a completely different landscape to what it is today. From an environment, which was dominated with mass Directory Submitters and brands buying links on third party sites, Link Building was cheap and easy. It wasn’t until Google started introducing guidelines and the very public penalisation of InterFlora that brands started realising there was a clear difference between a good and a bad link. The industry as a whole then started becoming more aware of what a band link was and terms such as Content Marketing and Earned Attention started to be used more often. Fast-forward to 2016 and Link Building alongside Content Marketing has its own place sitting somewhere between Owned and Earned media in the digital landscape.
So why Do Brands struggle with Link Building?
A 2015 survey of industry experts conducted by Moz revealed that page level link metrics are seen as the 2nd most influential factor when it comes to SEO. However when a second survey was conducted to see how much time people were spending on Marketing Activities it revealed that Link Building was one of the least popular activities. This could be due to a number of brands being previously burned by bad link building activity and becoming very cautions about re-engaging. It could also reflect how hard Link Building has become for brands. In this post I’m going to take you through 6 tips that can help your content pieces earn those vital extra links
1. Understand what Journalists are talking about
Although content must be created to add value to your consumers, in terms of link building, the secondary target audience will always be the journalists you are pitching to. If you want them to cover your story, you need to understand their interests in particular topics. Use a tool such as BuzzSumo to understand what the most popular topics are on the web. The tool allows you to search for a certain topic and it will return the most shared and linked pieces of content that are related. By doing this you can get an understanding of what is popular amongst publishers and readers. There is both a paid and a free version of Buzzumo. A second tool to consider is Muckrack. This is a paid tool but it allows you to again search a particular topic, and it will return journalists who have either written on that topic or tweeted about it. You can then browse the topics and understand the most popular content strands within that theme.
2. Hack an Event or Occasion
From experience, we tend to see content pieces that surround an event or occasion are more likely to earn a higher number of backlinks. This is mainly due to the topical nature of national and regional press. A great tool to use for this is daysoftheyear.com. This site has a qualified list of dates, holidays and occasions. Everything from ‘Talk Like a Pirate Day’ to ‘Cocktail Week’.
3. Use Non-Branded Design
Many brands design their content with brand colours, logos, navigation bars, call to actions and everything else they would normally put on sales content. Making the content as editorially friendly as possible is vital for holding journalists attention as well encouraging coverage. By having content sit on a unique landing page without a traditional header and footer allows users who land on the page to be completely engrossed in the content and the data being shown. Having the brand and a link to the main site at the bottom of the page allows the user to understand the creator of the content after they have finished reading it. Instead of using brand colours, try designing to represent the content topic. For example if the piece is talking about technology, try and use colours, illustrations and fonts that are representative of this industry rather than the brand.
4. Embed Codes
Embed codes displayed on the content allows a journalists to easily pick up the content and paste it on their own site. It also allows you to include a link back to the content within the code. Many publisher sites operate a sitewide CMS rule that nofollows all links. However links in embed codes are often an exception to this rule so it is a great hack to get followed links on a nofollow publication (such as the Daily Mail).
5. Try Using Multiple Assets
If you have a great idea and concept, why waste it by only creating one asset. In order to spread your bets and ensure that you have the best chance to earn links, why not great a box of tricks for journalists. From experience, we know that each journalists and each publication publishes content in a slightly different way. It is normally down to the preference of the writer or the restrictions of a CMS. An interactive piece of content can work great on some publications and journalists will embed an iframe of the content. However other journalists prefer not to embed interactive content into their articles. For these writers, create a static infographic version of the content to embed. Alongside this, some publishers prefer to use just the raw data. Why not create multiple press angles by pulling out trends within your data or story that can work on multiple levels. For example, if you are creating content on the costs of pets, why not use the data to create releases on the most expensive breed or celebrities with the most expensive pets as well. This will allow your outreach team to target as many publications as possible with multiple assets and angles.
6. Use Unique Data
Although re-purposing data and collating sources on a theme or topic can make great content pieces, a hook that always appeals to journalists is unique data. This could be the use of internal data, a survey or even a weighted index from multiple data sets. Having these types of data sets, allows brands to go to publications with unique, newsworthy and revealing headlines. As a tip it is also good to always work regional angles into your unique data, especially with surveys. Regional press is a great way to generate large volumes of links through one piece of content. Headlines such as, ‘Essex is the 10th happiest place to live’, works as ego bait for regional press.
Using content to build links is a tough process but by following the above tips you should be able to increase the likelihood of the content picking up a larger volume of quality links from publishers.
[Content Hacks featured image via ArcStone]